TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘No Way Out’

"People you love, they made you who you are."

| February 16, 2016

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

For nearly two months, fans of “The Walking Dead” have been eagerly waiting to find out the fates of our beloved characters. The return to a walker-filled Alexandria delivered on every single level imaginable. Without any doubts, this episode is one of the series’ greatest, possibly the best ever. With threats around every single corner, there is truly no way out.

Beginning the episode with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham creates one of the most epic cold opens that I have seen on television. With the nefarious band of gun-wielding, motorcyclists known as the Saviors in their way, the trio are stopped dead in their tracks. One of the men (Christopher Berry) declares that everything, including their weapons, now belongs to a man named Negan. After manically teasing about killing Sasha and Abraham, the group of Saviors meet their explosive end by way of Daryl armed with an RPG. What consequences will Daryl and the group face after the murder of this group of Saviors? My guess is that Negan (to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will not be happy about the deaths of his men.

Picking up right where the mid-season finale left off, this episode continues as Rick, Carl, Judith, Jessie, Sam, Ron, Gabriel and Michonne make their way through the streets of Alexandria, hand-to-hand and covered in walker guts. After reaching a relatively safe spot to catch their breath, Rick quietly shares a new plan of heading to the quarry to gather weapons and vehicles to lead the herd away. Gabriel, however, offers to take Judith to Alexandria’s church where he can better protect her. Jessie asks Gabriel to take Sam with him, but Sam refuses, telling her, “I can keep going.” Rick accepts his offer and Gabriel begins making his way through the herd with Judith under his walker poncho. This scene greatly develops the character of Gabriel, who has long been seen as selfish and cowardly; the offer to protect Judith also demonstrates the role of community in raising and protecting children.

Elsewhere in Alexandria, Tara, Rosita and Eugene tend to Carol and Morgan as they regain consciousness following their impassioned fight in the mid-season finale. Carol takes a gun and begins sweeping the townhouse for threats. Glenn and Enid make their way into the church where they come up with a plan to save Maggie, who is trapped on a rickety platform surrounded by walkers. Glenn gives an impassioned speech to Enid about the importance of living for the people that have died and lists his deceased friends as examples as to why he keeps fighting. Outside, the Wolf has Denise at gunpoint as he formulates an escape plan from Alexandria. Denise attempts to talk the Wolf into letting her go, but he declines. A gap in the walker herd opens allowing for the Wolf and Denise to run for the exit. Walkers swarm around them and the Wolf protects Denise, but a lone walker manages to bite the Wolf on the arm. Denise tells him that she will save his life if he will take her to the infirmary. They find a temporary safe spot where Denise points out that the Wolf saved her life. They begin running, but before they can make it to the infirmary, Carol appears and shoots the Wolf. Before he is devoured by walkers, he yells at Denise, “Go!” Did she actually have an impact on the Wolf? It appears that the “all life is precious” way of life that Morgan promotes may have actually worked. During his time on the show, Benedict Samuel gave an incredible performance as the terrifying Alpha Wolf.

Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Night has fallen as Rick leads his small group through the herd. Sam notices a young boy that has turned into a walker and immediately freezes in place. Rick, Jessie and Ron fearfully plead for Sam to keep moving as he cries out in terror. The next 60 seconds are some of the most disturbing and unsettling moments I have ever seen on television. Walkers, drawn by the sound of Sam’s wails, begin tearing into his face as he calls out for his mother. Yes, “The Walking Dead” actually went there.

Jessie begins screaming as she watches her young son being torn apart in front of her. Her screams bring on more walkers that devour Jessie as a horrified Rick watches on. Jessie and Carl are still holding hands and Carl is unable to break away from her grip. Rick steps forward and uses his hatchet to chop Jessie’s arm off as flashes of her character’s time on the series flash on the screen; an abrupt end to Rick and Jessie’s short-lived romance (this is even more tragic considering this episode first aired on Valentine’s Day). Ron witnesses the bloody ordeal and arms himself with a gun, which he points directly at Rick. Before he can shoot Rick, however, Michonne uses her katana to impale Ron through the chest. The gun goes off as Ron falls to the ground and is consumed by walkers. The camera turns to Carl who was caught in the way of Ron’s bullet; a clear gunshot wound is present right on Carl’s eye socket; blood drips down his face. He utters a simple “Dad?” before collapsing to the ground. Rick picks him up and starts running toward the infirmary as Michonne clears the path ahead.

At the infirmary, Denise, Aaron, Spencer and Heath scramble after seeing Rick carrying Carl. Rick rushes in and places Carl in the care of Denise; he tearfully begs for her to save Carl’s life. Michonne stands by Carl and assists Denise as Rick looks out the window at the enormous herd of walkers. Much like after the death of his wife, Lori, Rick redirects his energy into killing walkers. He bursts out of the infirmary with his hatchet in hand and begins slaughtering anything that moves. Michonne kisses Carl on the forehead and rushes outside to join Rick. The survivors remaining in their homes take notice and begin arming themselves with weapons before heading out onto the streets. The next several minutes are an epic montage of walker-killing action. Each character (including the various background Alexandrians) use their arsenal of weapons to eliminate walkers. Self-confessed coward, Eugene, steps up and shares that “This is a story people are going to tell.”

As the walker bloodbath is happening, Glenn and Enid fight their way to the platform that Maggie is on. Enid climbs up to help Maggie while Glenn becomes surrounded by walkers; Maggie ferociously screams as she watches Glenn’s struggle. Right before Glenn is devoured, Abraham and Sasha appear with their machine guns blazing. After the near-death of Glenn in “Thank You,” this scene was incredibly tense and frightening. Daryl drives the fuel truck inside Alexandria, where he unloads the fuel into the pond. He then uses the RPG to create a gigantic explosion that draws the attention of numerous walkers. This distraction allows for the survivors to kill the rest of the walkers. Clearing Alexandria of the walker herd is shown to be a true community effort. Rick’s group and the Alexandrians come together to fight not just for their own lives, but for the lives of their fellow survivors. The episode continues the next morning as thousands of bodies litter the streets. Rick sits with an unconscious Carl in the infirmary where he shares his vision for the future, a future that he wants to show Carl. After all of the death and despair of this episode, Carl slowly wakes up as the screen cuts to black. This injury will surely change the character of Carl forever.

“No Way Out” is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The deaths of Jessie, Ron and Sam are emotionally taxing and devastating. Their deaths will surely affect Rick and the rest of the characters. The sense of community was put on full display; Alexandria will rebuild and come back stronger than ever. Every single character is given their moment to shine and let out their inner badass. The threat of Negan still looms as the world of “The Walking Dead” expands. Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

Twitter